Category Archives: recycled craft

Upcycled Accordion Folder

This whole “business owner” thing has a lot of learning curves. Taxes…blech! Legal stuff..blech! Unforeseen storage issues…creative opportunity!

After a couple of months of getting the Sewhooked Shop off the ground, I had a whole tote bag full of receipts, paperwork and odds ‘n ends that I need to keep track of.¬† There isn’t a spare foot anywhere in my workspace for a filing cabinet and, as they say, have laptop will travel. I need to be portable.

After contemplating what to do with the mess of papers and such, I headed to our family storage location for paper, folders and general office/school supplies. A giant figurative light bulb danced gleefully over my head at what I’d found.

An accordion folder. Really? How did I not know we had that? The answer is, I did, but I forgot. It was tucked away with the kids’ school supplies. It’s something I used when both of them were very early in their school careers, before I realized that no mere accordion folder could ever cope with the massive amount of tree carnage that is elementary school.

I think this folder was probably around when I was at least in high school. In another lifetime, my dad was a school supply buyer. The bonus of that when I was a kid was all kinds of nifty and creative supplies! I’m pretty sure that this was a remnant from that time that my mom passed on to us when our own kids were little.


  • Accordion folder with with a cardboard shell
  • Fabric Remnant
  • Batting Remnant
  • Spray adhesive
  • Glue Gun
  • Ribbon
  • Mailing Labels
  • Pliers, if needed

Accordion Folder Upcycle Project

So, I find this. Cutesy and functional. I like the functional, but not so much the cutesy!

First thing’s first, tear away the cardboard exterior, doing as little damage as possible.

There’s an elastic band that is used to close the folder. Yank that out from behind and put it aside. We’re going to do something totally different for our closure!

On the opposite side is the button that the elastic goes around. We’ll bend it and wiggle it until we can pull it out of the hole with minimal destruction.

Now, that glue needs cleaning up. We’ll peel all that away.

Much better!

Now, the fabric. How about a remnant from another project? This fabric made the centers of the blocks on my Friendship Star quilt.

Oh no, it’s too short! Ideally, it needs to be a few inches bigger on each side. And, it definitely needs to be ironed!

Not to worry, just add a bit of another fabric to one end. That’ll create a lovely front!

For a touch of magic, spray basting. Because this is a permanent application, regular spray adhesive will work, too.

I think a little padding will be nice, and I just happen to have this bit of leftover lightweight batting from another project.

Now, we’ll spray baste the fabric to the batting. Spray the batting and not the fabric and, of course, we follow manufacturer’s instructions!

Add spray baste to the outside of the decorative cardboard. It doesn’t matter at this point which end of the folder is front or back, as long as we get it even!

Hmm, now about some pretty ribbon? This was saved from a gift The Big Guy gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

There are lots of adhesive options at this point, but after seeing how the folder was originally constructed, I think we’ll break out the trusty old glue gun!

We’ll make it extra pretty by gluing each corner down first.

Glue and repeat!

Nice, all four are in place now!

Now, we’ll fold the four sides and glue those in places. This bit might be tricky because we want it taut, but not too tight.

Lots of glue is necessary to make sure all the layers stay in place.

With all the seams glued, it looks so pretty!

It’s all ready for ribbon now!

The ribbon cut in half and glued in the center of each side is just the ticket! Gluing it directly to the cardboard gives it some extra durability.

Both sides are in place, so now it’s time for the final steps!

Let’s put the accordion back in the folder! We’ll sit it right in the center.

Let’s get it all straight so that we don’t have a weird end sticking out or anything! Start at the bottom and swipe the glue back and forth just like it was originally. Be fast, the glue dries quick!*

*Do not, repeat, do not glue the bottom of the file to the outside cover! It needs to be able to expand and contract, or, ehem, accordion. ūüėČ

For extra security, we’ll add more glue up the sides and around the top.

Squish the side hard!

Keep smoothing it until it feels like it’s set. We want the bonds to be nice and firm! With all the glue in place, we’re done! Wow, that was quick.

We’ll change the categories up with some leftover mailing peel and stick labels. A couple of the originals still apply!

Isn’t that nice?

This is a file folder I can travel with. I might even bring some crayons.

Happy Crafting!



Earring Hanger V2

earring hanger v2

You may remember my earring hanger that I posted some time ago. ¬†No? ¬†Well, go check it out, then! ¬†It’s fun and easy to make.

What do you do when you have a teenage daughter with way more earrings than her hanger can hold?  Make her a new one, of course!

While rummaging around my supplies looking for a spare frame, I came across an extra piece from one of those wire cube storage widgets. ¬†This thing has been hanging around forever in my pile of “you never know” craft supplies.

Today, it found it’s purpose!

It’s as easy as pie to put together (and definitely takes less time than pie!).

All you need is one piece of a wire cube storage set, or some other wire-frame widget, some zip ties, a piece of plastic canvas and some of those awesome 3M Command hooks. ¬†All of these things were in my craft supplies, left over from other projects. ¬†Total cost… $0!

The piece of plastic canvas fit perfectly across, leaving two rows at the top for the earrings that won’t fit through the smaller holes.

Hey, wait a minute! ¬†Some of those earrings are mine…. *grumblegrumble*

earring hanger v2 side detail

I put the zip ties on from the back and then trimmed them, so the closure is hidden.

earring hanger v2 top hooks

Using larger hooks on top gave her a place to put her gargantuan hoop earrings while simultaneously keeping the earring hanger sturdy.

earring hanger v2 bottom hook

A single smaller hook on the bottom holds the whole shebang nice and steady so the earrings don’t get bounced off!

If you make a Sew Awesome Craft or any pattern, craft or recipe from sewhooked,  I’d love to see a photo.  Email me or add it to the sewhooked flickr group.

Happy crafting!



Keeping It Green

I have oodles of those 99 cent green bags that the local grocery store sells. ¬†It takes about 8 of them to carry groceries for our family of four home. ¬†Most of the bags are three or so years old, and they’ve definitely seen some wear since I avoid plastic bags whenever possible.

Since it’s the start of a new year and it’s too darn cold to do much outside, I thought now would be a good time to give them a bit of an overhaul!

This is more mending than craft, but it’s easy and helps maintain my¬†reusable bags.

Keeping It Green
First, I checked for broken or damaged inserts that help keep the bottom firm and the bag upright.  Several of them were completely trashed.  After fishing around in my recycling, I came up with a couple sturdy cereal boxes.

Keeping It Green
The boxes were the perfect size, so I just trimmed them up with scissors, rounded the corners and popped them into the bag.  Wallah, brand new bottom inserts!

Keeping It Green
Next, I checked for split or damaged seams. ¬†Most of them were okay because I fairly regularly check for popped stitching caused by one too many cans! ¬†There was one that had lost it’s stitching and was starting to lose the trim that holds the front and bottom together. ¬†A quick zig zag stitch using whatever thread was on my machine, and it’s good to go!

If you make a Sew Awesome Craft or any pattern, craft or recipe from sewhooked,  I’d love to see a photo.  Email me or add it to the sewhooked flickr group.

Recycled Gift Bags from, ehem, paper wine bags

Recyled Paper Bag

The holiday head cold has grabbed me with both hands!  Fortunately, I finished my gift making and wrapping before I could spread cooties along with my Christmas cheer.

I did something I almost never do and *gasp* bought pre-made gift bags for holiday treats.  When I opened the packages, they all had a bottle neck.  After I forced my eyebrows down out of my scalp, I realized the cute little bags were practically useless unless the entirety of my holiday giving included M&Ms.

Without any time to spare, I started digging around in my “keep just in case” drawer and came up with a stack of paper wine bags that I’ve been holding on to forever. ¬†Jackpot!

To make your own holiday gift bags/wrap from recycled wine bags, you’ll need:

  • paper wine bags
  • tape or glue
  • hole punch
  • ribbon
  • iron
  • something to cut the bags (paper cutter, rotary cutter, decorative or plain scissors)
  • stamps, stickers or other embellishments

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

If your bags are like mine, they’re likely to be in all different states of crumpled-ness. ¬†So , first things, first, iron those bags! ¬†Medium heat works. ¬†Ironing on a paper bag will also clean your iron, so you might want to start with a sacrificial bag, just in case your iron has any Ghosts of Craft Projects Past lurking around.

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Much better!

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

I happen to have a snazzy wavy blade for my rotary cutter.  You can use something similar, a straight rotary or paper cutter or just plain scissors.

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Each wine bag will make 2 gift bags. ¬†Determine how big you want each side to be, leaving about 1″ for folding for each bag. Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Bottom and top (L-R)

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

The top bag is open on the top and the bottom, so it’ll need to have the bottom sealed up.

Recyled Paper Wine Bag Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Glue works fine for this, but so does tape or a cute sticker. This is a good time to embellish your gift bag with stickers, stamps or drawings.

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Top finish off, fold the top down and punch two holes through all layers.  Insert your gift and tie a ribbon through to close.

Recyled Paper Wine Bag

Repeat the steps for all bags. ¬†The bottom half of your recycled gift wrap will only need the tops folded and punched since the bottom is already sealed. ¬†I stamped mine, but you can embellish your bags any way you like. Now, fill with holiday goodness and gift it! ¬†If you’re stuffing your gift bags with edible homemade goodness, I suggest wrapping it in plastic or wax paper before placing it in the bag.

Add your Sewhooked-related photos to my flickr group and you might be featured in a future post.


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Crafty Retrospective: Don’t Waste, Thrift-cycle

A good deal of my crafting is recycling, reconstructing and repurposing.  Thrift stores are gold mines of raw materials and I rarely walk away empty handed once I set my mind to treasure hunting!

Here are a few crafty make-overs from over the years.

tire swing close up

Recycled Tire Swing made from a thrift store tire and a few dollars of hardware.  A back yard necessity!

Potions Bottles

Recycled thrift store bottles with simple paper labels turn them into potion bottles.   Given as part of a Harry Potter Secret Santa Swap.

Crafty Cabinet Full of herbs and spices?  I don't think so!

Repurposed thrift store find – a spice rack that now holds my beads and other wee crafty paraphernalia.

Yarn Ball Cozy from a CD Canister Recycled 2-Liter Bottle into Yarn bag

Recycled CD canister and 2-liter bottle into Yarn Ball Cozies

kurt cobain wallhanging

Thrifted Kurt Cobain tee, recycled into a quilted wall hanging.  Made as a gift.

Gareth's "Punked Out" Shirt Elena's Gauntlets - handsewn by her!

Recycled tees made with and by my kids, inspired by Generation T by Megan Nicolay

Binder Recon - Back to School Recycling

Binder Rescue - Back to School Recycling

Back-To-School binder rescue, a complete revamp (top) and minor fabric additions (bottom)

"handmade by" labels

Recycled cereal box labels

potholder tutorial 038.JPG

Recycled Pot Holder

earring hanger

Picture Frame Earring Hanger

quilt hanger before

quilt rack makeover with friendship quilt

Upcycled thrift store quilt hanger, before (top) and after (bottom)

Recycled Calendar Tutorial

Recycled Calendar Envelopes

Mumu for recyling

Monk's Bag made from a thrifted mumu

Monk’s Bag made from a thrift store mumu (pattern from Purl Bee)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle a Thrift Store Sweater!Recycled Sweater Bag Tutorial

Recycled Thrift Store Sweater bags

Recontructed leather shirt bag

Recycled, thrifted leather shirt.  I carried this purse for ages!

sweatshirt update

Easy Pockety Hoody hides an unwanted logo and adds a touch of thrift store chic.

Do you have a favorite crafty recycle project?  Post a link in the comments!

As always, if you make any pattern or craft from sewhooked,  I’d love to see a photo. Email me or add it to the Friends of sewhooked flickr group.

Happy crafting

Don’t forget about the Friends of sewhooked challenge!

Craft: Recycle Last Year’s Calendar

I admit it…¬† I’m a hoarder.¬† I keep everything that I might be able to use or recycle later on.

If it’s pretty or cool or unique, it’s somewhere in a plastic bin or a drawer waiting to be reimagined.

Calendars are something we all have.¬† I’ve been recycling mine as long as I can remember.¬† Each December, I start eyeballing the soon-to-be-obsolete model wondering what it will be in a month or so.

In the past, old calendars have become post cards and gift boxes.  My favorite by far are envelopes.  Calendar pages, especially really cool calendar pages, make great envelopes!

You’ll need:

  • an old calendar, the bigger, the better!
  • envelope templates, A and B, printed, cut out and transferred to a piece of lightweight card stock or cardboard
  • staple remover
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • double stick tape OR a glue stick
  • Blanket mailing labels (optional)

Remove staples from the calendar

Separate pages and tear apart along the crease line

Position the template on a calendar page and trace with a pencil.

You might want to fussy cut here, if part of the page is more interesting than the rest.

Using scissors, cut along pencil lines.

Repeat for all pages.

Fold bottom of envelope up towards top, aligning with the bottoms of the side flaps.

For heavier paper, use your template or a ruler to crease.

Fold side flaps, making sure they’re even with the top and bottom.

Fold bottom flap out.

Place double stick tape on the side flaps, leaving 1/2″ to an 1″ at the top without tape.

Fold top flap down.

Finished envelope from the front.

Optional:  for darker papers, add a self adhesive mailing label.

Repeat until you have a pile of gorgeous envelopes!

For sealing, use double stick tape, a glue stick or fun stickers.

The same template, different calendar.

Same envelope from the front.

Now, what to do with the gorgeous thumbnails on the back of this calendar?

How about buttons!?

If you make this or any sewhooked crafts, I’d love to see a photo!  Email me or add it to the Friends of sewhooked flickr group.

Happy Crafting!

also posted on cut out + keep

Sewing: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle a Thrift Store Sweater

The Recycled Sweater Bag isn’t quite old enough to be considered a Way Back Craft.¬† I first started making this bag last year.¬† It works great with a felted thrift store sweater, but you can also make this bag out of denim, upholstery fabric, or just about any other heavy duty material.

Do I need a reason to make a new bag?  Not really, but recycling is a darn good incentive!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle a Thrift Store Sweater
© Jennifer Ofenstein

You will need:

  • 1 old or thift store wool sweater – felted
  • fabric for lining & pockets
  • magnet purse snap
  • 2 buttons
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • scissors
  • chalk
  • pins
  • rotary cutter (optional)
  • walking foot (optional)

Cut a square or rectangle out of the body of the sweater, cut the same dimensions from lining fabric, remove sweater armss.

Split sleeves up seam and cut off the tops for pockets.

Cut rectangles out of the sleeve tops, cut same dimensions +1.5″ in length for lining.

Using the remaining scraps, cut out 2 circles and trim circles into free form flowers.

Cut 2″ squares out of the bottom left and right, repeat for lining fabric.

Create a long tube from lining fabric for inside pockets, pin pockets to inside, mark center with chalk for stitching line.

Pin sides and bottom, stitch, leave 2″ corners open, leave opening in the side or bottom for turning.

Fold 2‚ÄĚ cut out matching side and bottom seams.

The bottom and pockets should look like this.

Add magnetic snaps following package directions. Leave enough seam allowance at the top for stitching recommend 1″ or more, using a folded piece of scrap fabric to reinforce the snap. Stitch around snap to reinforce extra fabric.

Pin sweater pocket to lining, right sides together (lining should be 1.5″ longer), stitch ends.

Line up bottom of pocket, pin, then stitch sides. Leave an opening for turning.

Trim corners, turn pocket and pin openings.

Stitch side seams of bag, leaving bottom open.

Pin pockets over side seams (right side), then stitch to attach.

Stitch across bottom.

Fold 2″ cut out, matching side & bottom seams, pin & stitch.

The inside bottom should look like this.

Trim sleeves to desired width for strap – 5″ or 6″ recommended.

Pin ends of two sleeves together, stitch and trim seam.

Fold lengthwise, stitch, leaving approx. 6″ open for turning

Turn right side out and smooth opening.

Stitch closed with a tight whip stitch.

Pin strap to side seams, matching right sides, stitch.

Making sure the straps are inside, pin lining to outside, right sides together, stitch.

Turn bag right side out, through opening in the lining.

Pin opening in lining and stitch.

Turn lining inside, smooth and pin, top stitch ¬ľ”.

Stitch flower to center of each side over snap, stitch button on top.


variation from a purple sweater

If you make this or any sewhooked crafts, I’d love to see a photo!  Email me or add it to the Friends of sewhooked flickr group.

Happy Crafting!

also posted on cut out + keep and YouTube